The End of Fun

Published March 15, 2018

So now Toys R Us is closing all its stores. It follows the demise of Tower Records and Blockbuster Video. Barnes & Noble must be next. These are dark times for those of us who actually enjoy physically browsing things like toys, music, books and movies. I like to cook so I enjoy grocery shopping as well. Will Blue Apron and similar services eventually take that away from me?

I get it. You can buy all these products more efficiently online. You have access to a greater selection and companies can offer lower prices without investing in employees, bricks and mortar. My question is this: Are you good with this? My second question is: Doesn’t anyone want to get off their asses anymore?

If I were a kid today, you’d have to put me on suicide watch after telling me Toys R Us was joining Blockbuster up in that big obsolete retail world in the sky. I remember when the first Toys R Us opened in Chicago’s north suburbs in the 1960s. It was the biggest toy store I’d ever seen. A trip there was an event.

It was an event when I took my own kids there – for them and me. What kid doesn’t love a toy store? As for me, I’ve always loved buying toys. There were few things I enjoyed more than walking the aisles of Toys R Us at Christmastime filling my cart with toys for my kids. I’ve continued to indulge in this pleasure thanks to nieces, nephews, and most recently my baby granddaughter just this past Christmas. Sad to think she won’t be able to experience Toys R Us herself.

We used to enjoy family visits to Blockbuster as well. As you may recall, the walls were stocked floor-to-ceiling with VHS tapes and later DVDs of hundreds if not thousands of movies. You couldn’t get this stuff “on demand” from your couch so going to Blockbuster was a big deal and as much an activity on a Saturday night as going back home and watching the movies themselves.

I used to revel in spending a Saturday afternoon perusing the inventory of Tower Records. For some people this was a Saturday night-worthy activity. I enjoyed getting reacquainted with album covers from my youth now reduced in size on CDs. I could spend hours flipping through the alphabet covering every band in every genre. I found it relaxing and intoxicating.

I wrote last year how Cracker Jack was replacing the toy in its box with a piece of paper with a code for an app. I guess this is progress. I know I sound old. Just seems to me we’re taking a lot of fun out of life.

Toys R Us: RIP